CORRECTED-Carnival passengers sue for damages over disrupted 2013 cruise

martes 11 de marzo de 2014 16:29 GYT

(Corrects March 10 story headline and 1st paragraph to show passengers are not seeking $5,000 per month for life and corrects 11th paragraph quote to two hours from five hours)

By David Quiñones

MIAMI, March 10 (Reuters) - Three passengers suing Carnival cruise lines for damages after an engine fire left their ship adrift for days are asking the company to pay $5,000 per year for life while the rest are seeking $2,500 to $5,000 for four to five years.

A lawsuit brought by 33 passengers of the ill-fated 2013 voyage could change how cruise lines insulate themselves from legal actions, according to maritime legal experts.

A second pending lawsuit with three-times as many plaintiffs has the potential to further undo the advantageous legal position cruise lines have long enjoyed.

Both cases stem from a February 2013 incident when the Carnival Triumph broke down after launching from Galveston, Texas for what was to be a four-day cruise with a stop in Cozumel, Mexico.

A fire broke out in the ship's engine room as it was returning from Cozumel. The Triumph was left without engine power, or air conditioning and working toilets. Stalled in the Gulf of Mexico for five days, passengers described human waste seeping into hallways, and being forced to sleep on deck under makeshift tarps with no cooked food.

A federal judge in South Florida last week finished hearing three weeks of testimony from passengers and is expected to issue a judgment in the next two months.

The Miami lawsuit is the first from the Triumph incident to go to trial, with others in preparation, according maritime lawyers.   Continuación...